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Sheehan-Dare, H. (1945). Infants without Families: By Dorothy Burlingham and Anna Freud. (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1943. Pp. 108. Price, 3s. 6d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 26:78-79.

(1945). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 26:78-79

Infants without Families: By Dorothy Burlingham and Anna Freud. (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1943. Pp. 108. Price, 3s. 6d.)

Review by:
H. Sheehan-Dare

Does the institution child develop differently from the child brought up in a family? If so, why? The former question is answered affirmatively, and the latter as certainly as experience gained in two residential nurseries (housing about 90 children) enables the authors to answer it. The results of a piece of careful research are set forth in this readable little book with a clarity which one has learned to associate with Anna Freud's work.

To quote, apropos of institution children, from the first chapter: 'Superficial observation of children of this kind leaves a conflicting picture. They resemble, so far as outward appearances are concerned, children of middle-class families: they are well developed physically, properly nourished, decently dressed, have acquired clean habits and decent table manners, and can adapt themselves to rules and regulations. So far as character development is concerned, they often prove … not far above the standard of destitute or neglected children'. (P. 9.)

The authors then turn to conclusions drawn from their own investigations and find that 'Babies between birth and about five months of age, when not breast-fed under either condition, develop better in our nursery than in the average proletarian household.' (P. 10.) 'In the second half of the first year the picture changes definitely to our disadvantage.' (P. 10.) 'With the beginning of the second year the scales turn again in our favour.' (P. 12.)

The reasons for these variations are examined in the light of opportunities for development in the family as compared with those in residential nurseries under the headings 'Muscular Control', 'Speech Development', 'Habit Training' and 'Feeding', and are summarized thus:—

'The institutional child in the first two years has advantages in all those spheres of his life which are independent of the emotional side of his nature; he is at a disadvantage whenever the emotional tie to the mother or to the family is the mainspring of development.' (P. 21.) 'Muscular control and good eating habits develop more quickly and easily in institutions, speech and habit training are delayed when the mother's influence is missing.' (P. 22.)


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